In my recap for "Somebody That I Used to Know" (episode eight), I called you the episode's MVP because you played the dual role of Sam and Luna (who unwittingly shifted into Sam). Since you had already shown off your impersonation chops last season, in which you did a spot-on Marshall Allman (the character Tommy Mickens), did the writers specifically write in this plot line because they were so impressed with your skills? Or did you ask to do something like that again?
I didn't request it, and I can't speak for the writers because I'm not exactly sure. But I know I had a blast doing Tommy last year, so maybe they did think about that. They're always trying to think of ways to stay a couple of steps ahead of the audience, and I think having Luna turn into me, and then on top of that us running into each other was pretty unexpected. Now I want to know who I'm going to turn into next year!
You pulled off a very credible – and hilarious – woman. And not just any woman, you channeled Janina Gavankar (Luna) perfectly. What is your process for something like that? Did you hang around Janina 24-7?
I spent a lot of time with her and, like I did with Marshall, I recorded every scene that she had ever done on the show on my iPhone and rewatched and rewatched and tried to key in on her voice rhythms. Janina was more of a challenge for me than Marshall because she doesn't have a really discernible accent, and she's a woman, so her physicality is different than mine. Also, I wanted to do Janina. Like you mentioned, it wasn't just any woman. So it was difficult, but I actually got her to read some of the scenes with me. I didn't do that with Marshall, but with Janina I was having a tricky time with it, so that was really helpful. And she was very supportive – that's kind of a tough position for her to be in because she knows I'm going to be doing "her." So I basically spent a lot of time watching her, watching how she walked, and trying to get little bits of information on her rhythm of speech, and I just did my best!
How did you shoot that scene where you're holding yourself in your lap?
There was this big piece of machinery that moves the camera exactly the same way every time. It's really complicated – it's not stop-motion, it's a motion-control camera – and if you remember that shot, it pans behind the chair and then it goes up to me and her, and we just did it with me as Luna and we did it with me as Sam, and we had a double for me, who I acted with – but the tricky thing about that scene was that we did the rehearsal, and that motion-control camera is really loud. And I told Stephen [Moyer, who directed the episode], "Listen, we got a problem with sound. It's going to be too loud." And he said, "Yeah, sorry, mate, I know, you're going to have to loop it." So not only did I have to play both parts, but then I had to go and loop both. Parts. In. The. Booth. So I had to do those performances again. Looping is hard because you have to match the intensity and also the mouth movements.
Were you bummed that there was no Sam-on-Sam liplock? I was waiting for that!
No, I was not bummed [laughs]. I was embarrassed at even going in for the kiss. So bizarre, like, who would kiss themselves? Sam would not do that! Like, come on, let's make everybody cringe.
I have a favorite Sam scene from this season, but I want to ask what yours is first before I reveal mine.
The scene that immediately comes to mind is one I did with Sookie, in the hospital when I'm telling her about how frustrated I am being a shape-shifter and how everybody is dying. It was just a really well-written scene – Brian Buckner, one of our writers, wrote it – and it was just meaty and it had a lot going on. And it was great to work with Anna [Paquin] – we don't get to work together that much. Do you know which scene I'm talking about?
That was exactly the scene I was going to name, because it was so poignant.
Are you kidding? [laughs] We are on the same page! I think that was my best scene this year – as an actor that's the kind of scene that's fun to play, where you're just two people in a room, talking and revealing things about yourself.
Your character has gotten to shift into a whole menagerie of animals – dogs, pigs, snakes, owls, flies, mice, crocodiles. Is there any animal you'd like to see Sam turn into?
[laughs] One thing I haven't done is any kind of water-breathing animal like a fish or a dolphin – I think that would be pretty crazy. I don't know if that would ever be appropriate for the show, but then I would come out of it not only naked, but wet and naked.
Which leads me to my next question – do you ever get sick of being naked on the show?
I don't get sick of being naked, but the added pressure is staying in really good shape, because naked shape is a different kind of shape than just regular TV shape. Regular, having-your-clothes-on TV shape is intense, but naked TV shape is, I mean, you really have to watch what you eat.
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